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AHQ INSIDER Lake Murray (SC) Winter Fishing Report – Updated January 17

  • by Jay

Please note that the newest Lake Murray fishing report can be found at http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-lake-murray-sc-winter-fishing-report/

January 17

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.03 (full pool is 360.00) and water temperatures range from between 53 and 55.5 degrees at the dam on up to the upper 50s on warm days (like today) in the creeks.  The lake is clearing again after recent weather, but still has a ways to go.

Even though water temperatures have rebounded after the snow and cold weather about 10 days ago, the bass fishing has slowed down pretty significantly since that event.  Limits have been hard to come by in recent days and tournament sacks have been light.  For a while conditions were fairly stable and it looked like fish might settle into a winter pattern, but see-sawing temperatures have ruined any chance of that (for now).  Fish could certainly still get into a good winter pattern, but presently they seem to be moving shallower and not repositioning themselves deep.

Veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown says that with days still very short fish are not yet getting into a pre-spawn pattern, but instead of holding to the 45-degree banks they often like at this time of year they aren’t in those areas.  Instead they are trying to move shallower because of the warm weather.  Some fish seem to be moving into pockets and ditches, because when the shallows warm crayfish get more active and shad and bluegill may come up.  There is even some surface activity at times.

Right now Doug says as good a lure for getting bit as anything is a shakey head worm, and he recommends fishing it in areas that aren’t very flat or very steep.  Being relatively near deep water is a plus, and fishing rocky points, docks, wood or other shallow cover in 4-10 feet of water is a good bet.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that the warm weather has pulled a lot of fish back out of the river and creek channels, and scattered them across flats and main lake humps.  Drifting cut herring in 25-40 feet of water is the best pattern, and overall the bite is a little more challenging than when it was colder earlier in the month.

January 16

Lake Murray water levels are at 356.00 (full pool is 360.00) and water temperatures range from 53-54 at the dam up to 56 or 57.  The lake is clearing again after recent weather, but still has a way to go.

Striped bass fishing continues to be pretty strong on Lake Murray, but Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that after the water got dingy up the rivers fishing became a little hit-or-miss up there.  The best pattern remains pulling free-lines, planer boards, or chasing schooling fishing with bucktail/ icefly double rigs, but Brad has had better luck in the mid-lake area.  He is finding the fish in 30 feet of water at the mouth of creeks and off the main water.  Other fish may have gone way up the rivers.  Some smaller striper are also biting down-lines, and jigging spoons can generate a mixed bag including striper, bass and white perch.  Both herring and gizzard shad are catching fish.

The crappie bite continues to be pretty good, and the best pattern is now tight-lining 10-12 feet down in 18-20 feet of water.  Anglers are catching fish at the mouths of creeks and way up the river.  Jigs and jigs tipped with minnows have been the best baits.

Bass and catfish news to follow.

Dec. 28

Lake Murray water levels are at 354.24 (full pool is 360.00) and water temperatures at the dam range between 56 and 57 degrees.

It has been a pretty tough period for bass fishing on Lake Murray, and veteran tournament angler Captain Doug Lown reports that even though there were some pretty good stringers landed in tournaments before Christmas catching good-sized fish has been difficult.  There have been decent numbers of fish in the 2-pound range caught, but the better tournament fish have been fairly elusive.  One pattern for catching fish has been fishing shakey head worms and jigs in 10-14 feet around sloping banks that have some brush or other cover around them.  Other anglers have been fishing a shallow running crankbait, and there are also some anglers fishing deep in 20 plus feet of water and jigging a spoon or the like.  With water levels low fishing docks has not been a prominent pattern.  If temperatures will get cooler and then stabilize fish should get into a more consistent pattern.

While bass have been finicky striped bass fishing has been strong, and Captain Brad Taylor (803-331-1354) reports that along with most of the Lake Murray striper fishermen he is fishing up the rivers pulling free-lines and planer boards.  He has found most of the fish in about 30-40 feet of water but close to the surface.  In addition to live bait fishing there is good action casting around birds with double rigs that have an ice fly behind a bucktail.

There have also been some fish caught in the Ballentine area but the bite has not been as consistent as up the rivers.

Captain Brad Taylor with a nice cold weather Murray striper
Captain Brad Taylor with a nice cold weather Murray striper

Brad reports that the crappie bite has also been good, and he has been finding fish up the rivers around brush in about 20 feet of water.  He has only been able to catch them on minnows fished about 10-12 feet deep.

On the catfish front, Captain Chris Simpson (864-992-2352) reports that that fish are really starting to orient to the main river channel and larger creek beds in about 20-40 feet of water.  Drifting cut herring is the best pattern and recently Chris’ boat has caught some good fish.

A big Murray blue caught with Captain Chris Simpson
A big Murray blue caught with Captain Chris Simpson

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